Government’s use of drones needs careful regulation

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The Illinois State Capitol in Springfield. | AP file photo

Thanks for the “heads-up” about the drone bill “buzzing” in Springfield. As a droner, I appreciate their use in search-and-rescue, TV news, archeology and (one hopes) pizza delivery. They’re extensions of our eyes and fun to fly.

As a 1960s activist, I recall the Red Squad with disgust. Giving City Hall or cops the right to dispatch drones to protests, parades or Pitchfork — without warrant – makes Red Squad tactics seem quaint. A Red Squad with snoopy drones equipped with facial recognition and infra-red technology? (The “Dread Squad”).

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This technology has developed faster than our ability to use or regulate it. After Facebook and other data breaches, lawmakers should err on the side of privacy in drone laws.

I say zero tolerance for “drone-peeping,” with tough penalties on those who violate the privacy of a person, group, business or house of worship. This includes recreational droners, jealous exes, political opposition researchers, sex offenders, and law enforcement or intelligence agents without warrants.

Beyond privacy concerns, the more drones circling over a Bears game, the greater chance of tragedy. (In 2015 alone, drones crashed into a U.S. Open tennis match, World Cup Ski slalom in Italy and Lollapalooza in Chile.)

The 2013 Illinois legislation was a good step, but this is a global issue. Let’s debate whether to ban armed drones, impose surcharges on Big Drone, enforce “no-drone zones” by public buildings, empower voters to regulate drones by referendum and enact strong victims’ rights.

Claude Walker, West Ridge

Protect our air and water

John Muir , the naturalist of the Pacific Coast. | Sun-Times library

John Muir , the naturalist of the Pacific Coast. | Sun-Times library

To my friends in Illinois who love Lake Michigan and breathe the same air I do: In 1978 I moved from Chicago to Wisconsin, the home state of conservation heroes like John Muir and Aldo Leopold who taught us to protect our land, air and water for future generations. I apologize for the Wisconsin Republican lawmakers who have controlled the levers of state government since 2011. They disregard the common good to the detriment of my state and yours. They are eager to ignore Environmental Protection Agency air pollution rules to benefit a huge electronics factory and skirt the Great Lake Compact so Foxconn can suck millions of gallons of Lake Michigan each day. We must work together to prevent this from happening. Many of my fellow Wisconsinites are eager to protect our shared air and water from shared degradation.

Carrie Scherpelz, Madison, Wisconsin

Fattest monster

The current Congress has the opportunity to set a precedent, an ugly one, admittedly, but surely necessary. One of Donald Trump’s campaign promises was to “drain the swamp.” In actuality, we now have more swamp monsters than ever.

Scott Pruitt, the administrator of the EPA, is the fattest monster of them all. Saying that he has behaved like a kid in a candy store is an insult to children. His breathtaking abuses of his position have been well documented, far outstripping those of former Secretary of

EPA administrator Scott Pruitt. | AP file photo

EPA administrator Scott Pruitt. | AP file photo

Health and Human Services Tom Price or former Secretary of Veterans Affairs David Shulkin, or other, current cabinet members, for that matter. In spite of his egregious excesses, there are no strong signs that President Trump plans to remove Pruitt, probably because he has systematically begun to remove so many existing protections established under the EPA. The GOP has a long inveighed against government waste. Where is this GOP Congress now? If they ever want to be taken seriously on this issue again, they should begin carrying out their oversight duties immediately and move forward with the impeachment and trial of Scott Pruitt.

Michael Hart, West Ridge

Congress needs a chaplain

I disagree with Seth M. Limmer, senior rabbi of Chicago Sinai Congregation. He stated he thinks Congress should retire the position of chaplain. WRONG! The current Congress is godless, greedy, immoral. More than ever do they need an official religious officer in the House and Senate. There is a great need for a daily dose of “morality” on Capitol Hill — someone to rail against the economic injustice of the wealthy elites who “defraud the poor and rob the needy.” Or, better yet, clean out congress and elect young, moral, ethical men and women who will really represent their constituents and not only the wealthy and corporations.

Ann Gutierrez, Tinley Park

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